It can feel like a gut punch when your child’s other parent seeks a custody modification in hopes of limiting or even completely eliminating your time with your child. After all, if they’re successful on their motion, then your relationship with your child can be devastated, and you’ll need to be able to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances to be able to modify the custody order again.
What can you do to protect yourself from a custody modification?
First of all, don’t panic when one of these motions is filed. Although it can be stressful, you need to take a deep breath and do each of the following:
- Carefully assess the allegations being levied against you. The other parent has to demonstrate how there’s been a material change in circumstances, so once you have a handle on the allegations, you can then focus on attacking them.
- Gather evidence that contradicts the claims in the motion. This can include documentary evidence as well as witness testimony. Just make sure the evidence is pointed and directly speaks to the allegations being made.
- Focus on the “substantial” piece that must be demonstrated. Not every change rises to the level of a substantial one, which must be shown before a modification can be granted. So, even if there’s some merit in the accusations being made, find ways to minimize them.
- Consider a custody evaluation. If you think the court could benefit from hearing from a neutral third-party who has been able to speak to the child and has observed each parent interact with the child, then you might want to file a request for a child custody evaluation.
Don’t sit back and let the other parent run the show in your custody modification hearing
Remember, the outcome of this child custody modification request can have a tremendous impact on you and your child. With that in mind, you need to do your best to gain control of the situation. You might be able to do that if you familiarize yourself with the facts and the law, and if you diligently work to build persuasive legal arguments.